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Pac Bell withdraws ISDN compromise

Pacific Bell has withdrawn an offer to provide 200 free hours of use in off-peak hours.

Rebuffed in the first day of hearings at the California Public Utilities Commission, Pacific Bell has withdrawn its latest proposal to give residential California ISDN users 200 free hours of off-peak service.

The Baby Bell had cobbled together a mini-alliance of six groups in support of its settlement proposal, which it hoped the PUC would approve before full hearings commenced. Administrative law judge Kim Malcolm, however, ruled Monday that all parties would be able to testify before the commission made a ruling on the settlement.

Pac Bell then withdrew the proposal altogether and reverted back to their original cap of 20 free off-peak hours, according to Bob Larribeau, president of the California ISDN Users' Group. Larribeau's group had endorsed the 200-free-hour proposal but will not support the original plan.

"We were told in the prehearings that if we put together a settlement we wouldn't have to go to full hearings," said Don Roe, ISDN product manager at Pac Bell. But the company withdrew the proposed compromise after Malcolm ruled that Pac Bell's base of support was not large enough and decided to proceed with full hearings.

The hearings will continue daily, with witnesses for Pac Bell expected to testify before Malcolm this week. After the hearings conclude, Malcolm will recommend a solution to the commission, which has final authority to determine rates.

"The commission is likely to pick something between the two extremes," Larribeau said, referring to the the $25 to $30 flat monthly fee that Intel and Compaq Computer are seeking at one extreme, and Pac Bell's original proposal as the other.

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Pac Bell loses round in ISDN fight